What [is vended]
Aside from the already obvious fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has made vendors make sure vending machines are equipped with the personal protection equipment (PPE), the consumers are now more demanding about individual packaging as well. For example, Talivenda @talivenda has begun to produce individually packed stirrers.
'For the consumers, and therefore our customers in particular, individual packaging and hygienic safety are very important. That's why the confectionary and chewing gum packed with flow-wrapping machines are among our top selling vending products,' Elena Glukhikh, a marketing representative of Gumballs @gumballs.ru, shares.
Another trend is that vending nowadays represents not only coffee and snack machines. There has also emerged the demand for small electronics and essentials. Ready meals are becoming more popular as well. 'The diversity of goods contained in vending machines proves that entrepreneurs have begun to regard vending machines as full-fledged retail outlets allowing to introduce the product to the market at a minimum cost and make it stand out among competitors,' Tatyana Shubina, an advertising and PR officer at the trading and manufacturing company VendShop @vendshop_vending, says.
'The more traditional and profitable locations of vending machines such as offices are no longer of interest in terms of commercial attractiveness to the entrepreneurs, especially taking into account the now constant quarantine lockdowns and the work-from-home format,' Valeriy Ivannikov, General Director, the Assorti @assorti_vending vending machine chain, says pessimistically.
At least the era of pick-up points, which now not only are set up at the entrance lobbies of people's blocks of flats, i.e. right where most of end customers are actually concentrated, but also perform the intermediary function between the so called first-mile delivery personnel and the middle-mile delivery staff, definetely has begun.
'Postamats are supposed to be utilized to receive the goods in small amounts from sellers (primarily small businesses). The postamats have become a sort of hyperlocal delivery stations within a neighbourhood. Retailers seem to find it quite convenient: there's no more need to rent space for dark stores and dispatch delivery service for long-distance delivery routes. Instead the middle-mile delivery couriers deliver the orders to the postamats, while the last-mile delivery staff withdraw the items from the postamats and conduct to-the-door delivery,' Grigoriy Frenkin, Deputy General Director, PickPoint @pickpoint_rus, explains.
The answer is as simple as it gets: contactlessly and in a whole new way. In this regard, postamats serve both a sort of the bridge between the online and the offline, and a preferred sales channel, and the system of quick payments seems to be considered preferable, too. And that's not all.
'As biometry and digital identification are being steadily introduced in large cities, the automated trade is also expanding. However, vending now seems to be at the verge of significant changes. With that being said, one is going to have to adapt to the changing environment and new technologies, as well as improve payment methods and the convenience of vending equipment,' Elena Glukhikh adds.
Anyway, both vending and e-commerce may still be regarded as 'the blue ocean', and, since these industries are aparently pivoting towards the Russian regions, they need to be kept an eye on. Moscow and Saint Petersburg once used to account for half the e-com sales in Russia, whereas major Russian regions would take up not more than 1 per cent each. Now, according to the AKIT (Association of E-Commerce Companies), the sales structure by region is as follows. Moscow: 20.1 per cent, Saint Petersburg: 7.3 per cent, the Krasnodar Region: 4.3 per cent, the Sverdlovsk Region: 2.7 per cent, the Rostov Region: 2.4 per cent, the Nizhny Novgorod Region: 2 per cent, the Samara Region: 1.9 per cent, the Republic of Tatarstan: 1.9 per cent, the Republic of Bashkortostan: 1.6 per cent, Grigoriy Frenkin shares the statistical data.
'Surely, "the golden era" of vending is only ahead. Any challenges, as well as obstacles, which we clearly faced in 2020 and 2021, usually give us the second wind and allow new opportunities to come into our life. 2020, in particular, was obviously way too harsh on the entire industry, and the market players found themselves having to come up with ways to survive, and those who managed to succeed ended up staying afloat. So, it appears, those turned out to be the best of the best. Yet the long way to the top still lies ahead,' Anna Prisyazhnaya, Head of Vending Department, Admafood @altaromacoffee, says optimistically.